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Childhood verbal abuse and risk for personality disorders during adolescence and early adulthood

by Jeffrey G. Johnson, Patricia Cohen, Elizabeth M. Smailes, Andrew E. Skodol, Jocelyn Brown, John M. Oldham
Comprehensive Psychiatry ()

Abstract

Data from a community-based longitudinal study were used to investigate whether childhood verbal abuse increases risk for personality disorders (PDs) during adolescence and early adulthood. Psychiatric and psychosocial interviews were administered to a representative community sample of 793 mothers and their offspring from two New York State counties in 1975, 1983, 1985 to 1986, and 1991 to 1993, when the mean ages of the offspring were 5, 14, 16, and 22 years, respectively. Data regarding childhood abuse and neglect were obtained from the psychosocial interviews and from official New York State records. Offspring who experienced maternal verbal abuse during childhood were more than three times as likely as those who did not experience verbal abuse to have borderline, narcissistic, obsessive-compulsive, and paranoid PDs during adolescence or early adulthood. These associations remained significant after off-spring temperament, childhood physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, physical punishment during childhood, parental education, parental psychopathology, and co-occurring psychiatric disorders were controlled statistically. In addition, youths who experienced childhood verbal abuse had elevated border-line, narcissistic, paranoid, schizoid, and schizotypal PD symptom levels during adolescence and early adulthood after the covariates were accounted for. These findings suggest that childhood verbal abuse may contribute to the development of some types of PDs, independent of offspring temperament, childhood physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, physical punishment during childhood, parental education, parental psychopathology, and co-occurring psychiatric disorders. Copyright ?? 2001 by W.B. Saunders Company.

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